Princess Sayako of Japan bids farewell to members of the Imperial Household Agency as she heads for the Imperial Hotel for her wedding ceremony with Tokyo city bureaucrat Yoshiki Kuroda in Tokyo, on Tuesday November 15, 2005.
Thousands turn out as Japanese princess leaves for wedding
Japanese Princess Sayako, the emperor's only daughter, was greeted by thousands of well-wishers as she prepared to marry a commoner at age 36 and leave the world's oldest monarchy.
Sayako, 36, wearing a simple Western-style long white dress and a single-strand pearl necklace, climbed into the black Prince Royal limousine as formally-dressed royal minders bowed deeply and clapped.
As the limousine slowly cruised to the nearby Imperial Hotel, the princess smiled and waved to thousands of well-wishers along the road.
Sayako will marry Yoshiki Kuroda, a 40-year-old urban planner for the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in a Shinto-style ceremony at a specially built altar at the 118-year-old hotel.
The princess and part-time bird researcher will turn into a full-time housewife after wedding.
In the late afternoon, the princess-turned-commoner will don a kimono once worn by her mother and toast with champagne at a reception attended by 150 guests, including her parents.
Sayako is the youngest child of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko and the last of their three children to wed. No female royal has married in her late 30s in recent history, but the Japanese are increasingly settling down late as women juggle lifestyles and careers.
Because Japan does not allow women to take the throne, Sayako must leave the imperial family when she marries Kuroda, a childhood friend of her brother.